Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

I plead guilty to eating key lime pie for breakfast July 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:34 AM
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IF EVER YOU FEEL GUILTY about eating dessert for breakfast, do as I do. Adapt.

I have, on occasion, crumbled a cookie into vanilla yogurt, thereby justifying that this qualifies as a nutritious breakfast (by my definition).

And just the other day, when I opened the refrigerator early in the morning and eyed the key lime pie, I decided, what the heck.

I pulled this key lime pie from the refrigerator. Had my husband and I really eaten this much pie already?

With a handful of blueberries tossed on the side, this could qualify as a breakfast food. Blueberries, after all, are high in antioxidants, which protect cells from damage that leads to aging and various diseases. That’s good enough for me.

So I plated a piece of the key lime pie I had made just a day earlier, added the blueberries and indulged without a twinge of regret.

With a side of blueberries, key lime pie makes a balanced breakfast. You've got your protein (eggs), your dairy products (sweetened condensed milk and sour cream) and your fruit (blueberries and lime juice).

Later I e-mailed Joanne Fluke, creator of this pie, and asked if I could publish her recipe on Minnesota Prairie Roots. She obliged.

But first, you should know that Joanne is a Swanville, Minnesota native and the New York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen culinary cozy mysteries. She defected to California, where she’s lived for years, but I don’t hold that against her. Joanne writes some good Minnesota-based mysteries that include some equally great recipes. And she returns to her home state at least once a year to visit and to promote her books.

The recipe for key lime pie published in 2007 in Key Lime Pie Murder. In that mystery, main character Hannah Swensen, who owns a bakery, is judging baked entries at the Tri-County Fair. As she leaves the fairgrounds one evening while carrying a key lime pie, she discovers a dead body. So that, dear readers, is the story behind the decadent, to-die-for dessert that I devoured for breakfast.

Key Lime Pie


5 eggs

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

½ tsp. lemon zest (optional, no substitutes)

½ cup sour cream

½ cup key lime juice (may substitute frozen key lime juice or juice from regular limes)

¼ cup white sugar

Crack one whole egg into a medium-sized bowl. Separate the 4 remaining eggs, placing the 4 yolks into the bowl with the whole egg. Place the 4 whites in another mixing bowl and set aside for later use in the meringue.

Whisk the whole egg and yolks until uniform in color. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Add the lemon zest, if you decided to use it, and the sour cream. Stir together and set the bowl aside.

Juice the limes and measure out ½ cup of the juice into a small bowl. If you are using the ready-made lime juice, measure out ½ cup of that. Add ¼ cup sugar to the lime juice and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Next, whisk the sugared lime juice into the egg mixture.

Pour the filling into a pre-made graham cracker or cookie crust. Bake 20 minutes at 325 degrees F. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. to bake the meringue.


4 egg whites

½ tsp. cream of tartar

pinch of salt

1/3 cup white sugar

Add the cream of tartar and salt to the bowl with the egg whites and mix in. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Continue to beat at high speed as you sprinkle in the sugar. When the egg whites form firm peaks, stop mixing. Spread the meringue over the filling with a spatula, sealing to the edge of the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for an additional 12 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Refrigerate if you wish. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Text & images © Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Recipe courtesy of Joanne Fluke